Four NHL players and one former NHL player are facing sexual assault charges in Canada in connection with allegations from 2018, their attorneys said Tuesday – a fresh development in a case that has wrapped Canada’s national hockey governing body in controversy.
The charges relate to a woman’s accusation that multiple members of Canada’s world junior hockey team sexually assaulted her in London, Ontario, in 2018. All five of the players facing charges were members of that team at the time.
One of the players facing charges, former Ottawa Senators forward Alex Formenton, who now plays professionally in Switzerland, turned himself in to police in London on Sunday, his legal team said. The others facing charges, according to their lawyers or their clubs, include New Jersey Devils center Mike McLeod; Devils defenseman Cal Foote; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart; and Calgary Flames center Dillon Dube. The current NHL players have been instructed to surrender to authorities in connection with the allegations, London police have said.
The case garnered widespread attention in May 2022 when Canadian broadcaster TSN reported the woman had settled a lawsuit she’d filed against Hockey Canada – the nation’s governing body for the sport – and members of the junior team over the assault allegations. A cascade of developments followed, including June 2022 parliamentary hearings over Hockey Canada’s handling of the case, and July 2022 announcements that London police and Hockey Canada would reopen their investigations.
Investigators are scheduled to address the London police investigation and pending charges in a news conference scheduled for Monday.
Formenton “will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence,” his attorneys, Daniel Brown and Lindsay Board, said in a release. Formenton, who played for the Senators in 2017, took an indefinite leave of absence from Swiss hockey club Ambri-Piotta last week.
McLeod “denies any criminal wrongdoing,” his attorneys, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a release. “He will be pleading not guilty and will vigorously defend the case.
Foote “is innocent of the charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name,” a lawyer for Foote said. “What is most critical at this time is the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial that everyone in Canada is entitled to.”
Hart “is innocent and will provide a full response to this false allegation in the proper forum, a court of law,” his attorneys Riaz Sayani and Megan Savard said in a joint release.
Dube “will plead not guilty and maintains his innocence,” and “will defend the allegations in court,” his attorneys, Louis P. Strezos and Kaleigh Davidson, said in a statement.
The Flames are “aware of the charge of sexual assault that has been laid against Dillon Dube,” the club said Tuesday. “We take this matter very seriously. Because the matter is now pending legal proceedings, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The Flames had said January 21 that Dube was “granted an indefinite leave of absence from the team while he attends to his mental health.” On Tuesday, the club said it had “no knowledge of pending charges at the time Dillon’s request for a leave of absence was granted.”
The Devils, for whom McLeod and Foote play, are “aware of the reports” and have “been told to refer all inquiries regarding this to the league,” the team told CNN Tuesday.
The NHL declined to comment Tuesday when reached by CNN. CNN also has sought comment from the woman’s lawyer and Hockey Canada.
Hockey Canada apologized in 2022 for its handing of the case
A month after the TSN report, the Canadian government in June 2022 announced it was freezing federal, public funding for Hockey Canada until the organization had submitted the complete results of its original, two-year investigation and plans for implementing change within Hockey Canada.
During parliamentary hearings in June 2022, executives for Hockey Canada disclosed that it was notified of the incident the day after it was alleged to have taken place in 2018.
“We immediately initiated a process to investigate, beginning by contacting police.
We commissioned an independent investigation and appointed an independent adjudication panel of judges to review the findings of that investigation,” said Tom Renney, Hockey Canada’s former CEO, during testimony.
Renney confirmed during the hearings that Hockey Canada had settled a civil lawsuit that the woman field in April 2022, but he did not reveal settlement amount.
In July 2022, Hockey Canada published a letter apologizing for it said was inadequate action regarding the assault allegations, and said it was reopening an internal investigation. Three months later, the organization announced its CEO and board of directors were being replaced.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.
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